Enter subtitle here

9 So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood [dahm naki] from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of Yahweh.

 'So ye shall not pollute HaAretz [land] wherein ye are; for dahm [blood] pollutes HaAretz; and kapporah [cleansing] cannot be made for HaAretz for the shefach dahm [ blood that is shed] therein, except by the dahm [blood] of him that committed shefach dahm (shedding of blood)' Num (35:33).

Blood, we see, was as abhorrent to God who dwelt in the Land, as corruption in the Camp in which He walked. The parallel is too exact to be without significance. We know that in the case of the Camp corruption was a symbol of sin: so we can safely conclude the same to have been true of shed blood in the case of the Land. It is not difficult to find the reason why it came to have this symbolic value.

Sin (as the story of Eden proved conclusively) is a killer, visiting death on those in its power. A murderer, therefore, merely hastened Sin's inexorable work in man, and brought his victim all the quicker into the clutches of the dread enemy death. In killing another he ranged himself on Sin's side, and acted as Sin's agent.

In the judgment of the Law he did this so effectively as actually to become a personification of Sin, and was treated as such in its symbolism.

Law and Grace Ch 11

Defile [ make not tameh] therefore the land [HaAretz] which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I Yahweh dwell among the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel]. (Num 35:34)


A grievous complication arose when, with all the good intention in the world, the authorities sought to bring the miscreant to book but could not identify or trace him because the crime had been unobserved. The rule still held good-"blood it defileth the land": unhappily it could not be cleansed on this occasion by "the blood of him that shed it".

To allow for, this, and to enable the nation to disown the crime and thereby fulfil the "allegorical purpose of the murder laws, a special ritual was devised. For simplicity (and justifiably in most cases) the murderer was presumed to be someone from the nearest city. This was represented by its elders; while they, in turn, stood not only for the city but also for the nation as a whole on the familiar principle of representation which we find so often in operation in the Law.

The elders had to take "an heifer which hath not been wrought with and which hath not drawn the yoke" (Deut. 21 : 1-3). They were then to bring the heifer to an unfrequented and uncultivated dell through which ran a brook, and there break its neck in the presence of "the priests the sons of Levi". (The latter doubtless came from the nearest Levitical city, and in the ritual clearly symbolized God as a witness to the transactions.)

The R.V. makes it clear that the heifer was in no sense a sacrifice ver. 6, "whose neck was broken").

Its blood was not drawn off or manipulated in any way. It was killed by the simple breaking of its neck.

What then was its function? We can at once conclude that it did not symbolize the murderer from the fact that it had to be a virgin animal and unused to the yoke, i.e., a perfect symbol of purity and innocence. It must therefore have stood for the victim. The latter had not been sinless in the absolute sense so there was no insistence that the heifer should be 'without blemish" as in the case of an atoning sacrifice. Yet his untimely death had been unjust and undeserved. To allow for his innocence in this respect the animal prescribed to typify him had to be a virgin cow.

If the heifer represented the victim its death must have represented his murder. Every aspect of the ceremonial confirms the accuracy of this view. The crime had been unobserved and for that reason the criminal had been able to flee unnoticed and escape his just deserts. In keeping with that fact a deserted spot had to be chosen as the site for the special ceremony prescribed in such cases. There the heifer was to be suddenly struck down as the victim himself had been. Then, as it lay there dead, the elders had to protest their Innocence on behalf of the City and nation as a whole.

This they did ritually by washing their hands over the carcase in water from the brook, and orally by disowning all responsibility for the crime, with the Levites (i.e., God) as witness. The Levites, hearing the elders appeal to God for the merciful pardon of the nation whom He had redeemed, doubtless concluded the ceremony by declaring the sin forgiyen (so far as the innocent were concerned) and pronouncing the blessing which they were qualified (as types of God) to give "in the name of the Lord" (Deut. 21 : 5). The stream was perhaps regarded as symbolically bearing the nation's guilt away in its purifying waters.

The murder laws thus had a transparently didactic purpose. They most effectively taught how defiling and dangerous was the presence of sin and of sinners in the midst of the nation; Their lesson did not stop short at the execution of literal murderers but was infinitely wider in its scope. In all things, in fact, they were to heed God's warning, " Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit wherein I dwell: for I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel"

Law of Moses Ch 11

22 And if a man [ish] have committed a sin [chet] worthy of death [mishpat mavet], and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree [etz]:

The uncleaness of sin's flesh means death is required, even in the morally sinless Yahoshua.

23 His body [nevelah] shall not remain all night upon the tree [etz], but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged [talui] is accursed [Kilelat - under curse] of elohim;) that thy land [adamah] be not defiled, which the Yahweh thy elohim giveth thee for an inheritance [nachalah].

Not remain all night upon the tree - as the Lord's shame was also cut short - he was not suspended on the tree all night.

The relation of the Jews to eternal life as individuals and to the everlasting possession of Canaan in blessedness and peace as a nation, is manifest. They are circumcised and therefore bound to keep the whole law; by which law they seek to be justified. But how vain and impossible is their enterprize! The Law says,

"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do thern" (Deut. 27:26); and so unexceptional is this sentence, that it even cursed the Lord Jesus saying, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree" (Deut. 21:23; and in this way He was made a curse for men (Gal.3:13).

Now, the law teaches, that without the shedding of blood their is no remission of sins, and prescribes certain sacrifices which must be offered upon an altar in Jerusalem, and there only. To say nothing of other impossible things, these offerings, which are indispensable, the Jews neither do nor can, present.

These are things, then, they do not continue in, and therefore they are cursed by the law, and condemned by Moses, in whom they trust. They are under the sentence of death, and of eternal exclusion from all inheritance in Canaan and the world. They may possibly believe in the promise made to Abraham, that God will give the land to him and the Christ; but they deny that Jesus is the person named in the will, which is tantamount to rejecting the covenant itself.

Elpis Israel 2.2.